Murray Valley encephalitis confirmation in Kununurra

Published on Wednesday, 19 February 2020 at 12:35:52 PM

Warning to travellers and residents in the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley after the detection of the mosquito-borne Murray Valley encephalitis virus

Residents and visitors in the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley are being encouraged to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, following the detection of Murray Valley encephalitis virus in the region.

While no human cases of Murray Valley encephalitis virus infection have been reported so far this year, the virus was detected in the Shire’s sentinel chicken flock at Kununurra.

Although the risk of being infected and becoming unwell is low, the illness caused by this virus can be serious. These results from the sentinel flock serve as an early warning system for mosquito-borne diseases. It’s important that people avoid being bitten wherever possible.

Murray Valley encephalitis symptoms include fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, nausea and dizziness. People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical advice immediately. In severe cases, people may experience fits, lapse into a coma, and may be left with permanent brain damage or die.

In young children, fever might be the only early sign, parents should seek medical advice if concerned; particularly if their child experiences drowsiness, floppiness, irritability, poor feeding, or general distress.

The virus is spread by the bite of the common banded mosquito that breeds in fresh water wetlands, creeks, irrigation areas and wastewater systems.

Residents are advised to minimise exposure to mosquitoes by taking a few simple steps when camping, fishing or undertaking other outdoor activities:

  • avoid outdoor exposure around dawn and early evening;
  • wear protective (long, loose-fitting, light-coloured) clothing when outdoors;
  • apply a personal repellent containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin to exposed skin or clothing. The most effective and long-lasting formulations are lotions or gels. Natural or organic repellents are generally not as effective as DEET or picaridin, or need to be reapplied more frequently;
  • use mosquito coils and mosquito lanterns and apply barrier sprays containing bifenthrin in patio and outdoor areas around houses;
  • ensure insect screens are installed and in good condition on houses and caravans;
  • use mosquito nets and mosquito-proof tents when camping; and
  • ensure infants and children are adequately protected against mosquito bites, preferably with suitable clothing, bed nets or other forms of insect screening.

Residents are encouraged to lodge any mosquito complaints by visiting the Shire website where you can lodge an enquiry; or by phoning Shire Health Services on 9168 4100.

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